from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 67
July 20, 2005


John Roberts, the federal appeals court judge who was nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday, played a minor role during the Reagan Administration in the chain of events that became known as the Iran Contra affair.

In his 1993 final report on the matter, Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh mentioned Mr. Roberts in describing the illegal fundraising activities of Clark R. "Spitz" Channell:

Mr. Channell approached the White House to "offer his assistance in promoting President Reagan's contra policies," Mr. Walsh wrote in Chapter 13 of his report.

"He was referred to White House political aide John Roberts, who in turn directed him to [Richard R.] Miller, a private public relations consultant who ran a firm known as International Business Communications (IBC)."

"According to Channell, Roberts told him that Miller and his partner Frank Gomez 'are the White House -- outside the White House'."

Channell and Miller would later plead guilty to felony conspiracy charges. Judge Roberts was not accused of wrongdoing.

See Chapter 13 of the Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, volume I, here:

Judge Roberts was Associate Counsel to the President from November 1982 to May 1986.


"The disclosure of [CIA officer Valerie] Plame's name was a shameful event in American history and, in our professional judgment, may have damaged U.S. national security and poses a threat to the ability of U.S. intelligence gathering using human sources," wrote eleven former intelligence officers in an open letter to Congress this week.

They disputed the contention, voiced by some Republican officials, that since Plame was employed at CIA headquarters she could not have been "under cover."

"These comments reveal an astonishing ignorance of the intelligence community and the role of cover. The fact is that there are thousands of U.S. intelligence officers who 'work at a desk' in the Washington, D.C. area every day who are undercover. Some have official cover, and some have non-official cover. Both classes of cover must and should be protected."

See their July 18 letter here:


"I have long believed in the importance of granting the public greater access to information about their government--the good and the bad," wrote Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a Wall Street Journal opinion article this week, noting that he had co-sponsored the Freedom of Information Act as a member of Congress in 1966.

He wrote of the challenges of informing the public in "this new Information Age," and observed that "a healthy culture of communication and transparency between government and the public needs to be established."

"This openness, however, does not obviate the necessity of protecting the secrecy of confidential information that, if revealed, could harm the security of the U.S."

"While I have long believed that too much material is classified across the federal government as a general rule, an increasingly cavalier attitude towards sensitive information in various quarters can put the lives of our troops at correspondingly increasing risk."

During Secretary Rumsfeld's tenure, a growing quantity of formerly public information has been withdrawn from public access.

A copy of his July 18 Wall Street Journal article, "War of the Words," may be found here:


Some recent reports of the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following:

"Libraries and the USA PATRIOT Act," updated July 6, 2005:

"Coast Guard Deepwater Program: Background and Issues for Congress," updated June 28, 2005:

"Military Base Closures: Role and Costs of Environmental Cleanup," updated June 27, 2005:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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